“A leader must be able to inspire others – to have followers,” explained Charles Mak, Head of Asia’s Private Wealth Management group for Morgan Stanley and native “Hong Konger.” The most important lesson for leaders (new or experienced), he went on to say, is that “you need to treat everyone fairly.” While everyone is not the same, everyone expects to be treated with dignity and respect, and then they, in return, will respect you and be willing to do what you ask them to do. Charlie recognized that as a leader he has to be “a role model and also be able to put himself into other people’s places so that he can know how they think about things.” There are over 60 different nationalities represented among the 300 people in his division, so “you prove ‘being fair’ by how you behave and make decisions.”
The most difficult task for a leader, Charlie claimed, is when you have to lay people off, but not “letting underperformers go is also a failure of leadership.” He pointed out that leaders develop others into leaders by giving them opportunities to grow and, inevitably in that process, letting them make mistakes… “and helping them to learn from those experiences.” But they better not make that same mistake again, he quipped, or “you get yourself fired!” Building a meritocracy is an essential organizational strategy, especially in Asia, for developing, rewarding, motivating, and retaining key people.
Difficult times require even more transparency and communications with people, and during these times it is especially important that you “don’t b.s. them!” One of the best strategies for building credibility, maintained Charlie, was setting stretch goals that could be achieved in a step-by-step fashion. He also pointed out that “profitability will bring you credibility” – so be sure to walk the talk!
With grace, humor, and insight Charlie reminded us that people everywhere are still just people -- who want pretty much what people everywhere (at all levels, fields and industries) want – “they need to be loved.” In return, he asserted, “they will treat the business as their own.”
Very good advice indeed.
Hope all is well,